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|Title: ||Forms of memory in late twentieth and twenty-first century Scottish fiction|
|Authors: ||Tym, Linda Dawn|
|Supervisor(s): ||Fielding, Penny|
|Issue Date: ||1-Jul-2011|
|Publisher: ||The University of Edinburgh|
|Abstract: ||According to Pierre Nora, “[m]emory and history, far from being
synonymous, appear now to be in fundamental opposition”. Drawing on theories
of memory and psychoanalysis, my thesis examines the role of memory as a
narrative of the past in late twentieth-century and twenty-first-century Scottish
literature. I challenge Nora’s supposition that memory and history are fundamentally
opposed and I argue that modern Scottish literature uses a variety of forms of
memory to interrogate traditional forms of history.
In my Introduction, I set the paradigms for my investigation of memory. I
examine the perceived paradox in Scottish literature between memory and history as
appropriate ways to depict the past. Tracing the origins of this debate to the work of
Walter Scott, I argue that he sets the precedent for writers of modernity, where the
concerns are amplified in late twentieth and twenty-first century literature and
criticism. While literary criticism, such as the work of Cairns Craig and Eleanor Bell,
studies the trope of history, Scottish fiction, such as the writing of Alasdair Gray,
James Robertson, and John Burnside, asserts the position of memory as a useful way
of studying the past.
Chapter One examines the transmission of memory. Using George Mackay
Brown’s Greenvoe, I consider the implications of three methods of transferring
memory. Mrs McKee’s refusal to disclose her experience indicates a refusal to
mourn loss and to transmit memory. Skarf’s revision of historical narratives indicates
a desire to share experience. The Mystery of the Ancient Horsemen demonstrates the
use of ritual in the preservation and the communication of the past for future
Chapter Two studies the Gothic fiction of Emma Tennant and Elspeth Barker.
I examine sensory experience as indicative of the interior and non-linear structure of
memory. I argue that the refusal to accept personal and familial loss reveals
problematic forms of memory.
Chapter Three traces unacknowledged memory in Alice Thompson’s Pharos.
I use Nicolas Abraham’s theory of the transgenerational phantom to consider the
effects of this undisclosed memory. I argue that the past and its deliberate
suppression haunt future generations.
Chapter Four considers the use of nostalgia as a form of memory. I
investigate the perceptions and definitions of nostalgia, particularly its use as a
representation of the Scottish national past. Using Neil Gunn’s Highland River, I
identify nostalgia’s diverse functions. I examine nostalgia as a way in which, through
the Scottish diaspora, memory is transferred and exhibited beyond national
Chapter Five builds on the previous chapter and extends the analysis of the
ways nostalgia functions. I study nostalgia’s manifestations in the diasporic Scottish-Canadian literature of Sara Jeanette Duncan, John Buchan, Eric McCormack, and
|Keywords: ||Scottish literature|
|Appears in Collections:||Literatures, Languages, and Cultures PhD thesis collection|
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